Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How Good Are CDs

Dear A.J.,

I feel I should caution everyone of the readers about homemade CD's. I read in AARP Magazine how the CD's and DVD's we burn on our computers only have a life of about five years. I did not believe this statement when I read it. I thought if one were to store this media at a constant temperature, he or she could count on it being in good shape for many years to come. I was very wrong.

I created a CD of all of the 45's of my favorite singer Janie Grant. I did this in 2002. I saved all of the WAV files on two of my hard drives, but I did not have them on my main computer which I am using right now. I decided to convert one of the CD's to MP3's to use on this computer. When I tried to rip the CD, I was shocked when the last six tracks showed corrupted data. The CD was bad. I supplied Janie Grant with many copies of the CD, so her family could play them over and over. I wonder how many of them are still useable.

You might remember how much effort you and I put into the Rob Robbins CD which was created by my friend Richard at WEEK-LP FM. It was corrupted, yet it had only been played once. My Janie Grant CD didn't have a scratch on it. The CD's deteriorate for reasons which are not all that obvious. I won't go into the reasons, but there isn't much we can do about it. I have many hours of shows of Dick Biondi on WCFL doing a show called "In the Beginning." The CD's were created by my friend Richard from my original tapes recorded in 1970. I am going to check those CD's because I have a feeling they might have deteriorated just like the Rob Robbins CD. I will report back to you. It is fortunate Richard still has my original tapes of those shows.

Once one gets a good CD made from one of his or her tapes, it might be wise to back it up on some sort of magnetic media; otherwise, the risk of loss is great.

I just wanted to bring this up because of your offer to create CD's from tapes. That is a very wonderful offer. I'd just like the readers to know they need to back the CD's up with other media if they expect to be able to listen to the material many years from now. On the other hand, many of my tapes are falling apart, so the CD's are the best option for now.

How many other readers have had their homemade CD's deteriorate?


Ron Henselman W9FT Melrose Park, IL
Thanks Ron for your comments and suggestions. I have been recording CDs for many years and have not experienced much loss. I think the problem may be more in the computer creating the CD and/or the computer reading it. Sometime I find a new computer has problems reading a CD created on an older computer. If I take the cd to a regular cd player it works fine. I always archive material in the CD audio format. There is a "redbook" standard, which often older computers did not comply with.

I find that failure is seldom in the media. Sometimes cleaning a perfectly clean looking CD or DVD works wonders.

Also try using different "readers". Sometimes Nero will open a file that Windows Media Player will not. I use Adobe Audition which used to be Cool Edit Pro. It works very well at reading and burning CDs. It will also extract audio from video files.

When you do have a failure try another computer or player. Then, if it still is not working try a free program called "Isobuster". In most cases it can retrieve material from damaged files. It also works well with DVDs. In fact, I use it more for DVDs because I have more problems with DVDs.

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